Wednesday, December 9, 2009


This year I'm participating in the annual Clayamies Christmas Ornament Swap again after not having a space to make ornaments in for the past two Christmases.

I had a great idea for something interesting and a little different but after a couple of attempts I realized that the design that worked so well in my head would require a lot more real life design (& engineering) hours to get it to work than I was willing to spend. Filed it away in the box with all my other great ideas that didn't quite work. Am going to need a much bigger box soon.

Got nervous when I started to hear from some keeners who had already finished the maximum of 20 ornaments and I was still trying come up with a new idea - I now needed something simple that I could whip up a bunch of very fast. (I may have been guilty of going a little overboard in the past so I'm due for making some smaller, simpler ornaments than say, the giant pinwheels I made one year - sorry guys, I'm sure those ones blew everyone's postage budget to hell)

In the meantime I went to Julie Picarello's wonderful workshop at Linda's house in Deep Cove.

Here's a horrible photo of a slice of the Mokume I made in her class.

As a quick aside to the main course of Mokume, she showed a cute little thing to do with the scrap ends of Mokume blocks that she calls a lizard tail.
My Lizard tail.

Came home, started playing around and made some Julie's-lizard-tails-inspired twisted candy-canes.

Except I used a striped block of clay instead of thin sheets;
and I twisted them instead of rolling;
and didn't use any of the gold leaf that gives Julie's sparkle;
and I used no Ecru in my colours, strictly clear bright candy cane colours;
and I didn't taper them - (who would want a pointy, already-sucked-on candy-cane?);
and I cut them in 4 sections, not 2;
and.... Hmmmm, I guess my weird little candy canes really don't have much similarity to Julie's lizard-tails after all, except for the fact that they both have a mirror-image effect.
Julie's class DID remind me of the mesmerizing effect that those mirror images have on our brain.
I made an even dozen of them, a perfectly respectable amount for the swap. It means I get back a dozen ornaments from clayers across the country.
I can't wait.

In the past I've put all my swapped ornaments on a wreath but this year it was too crowded to fit all of them.
And I haven't even received this years' batch.

I'm going to have to get a small artificial tree, just for my treasured polymer clay collection.
Or a second "overflow" wreath.


Nettonya said...

I LOVE how you took Julie's instruction and modified it to create your Christmas swap!

I may just run with your idea to make a few ornaments of my own, for gifts. Because I will use a different order of colors and my twists will be different, the result will be similar, but not the same. I hope that's all right.

I loved the Christmas party for the polymer clay guild!

Your house tour showed how beautiful a house can be, when made by people taking the time and care to build it! I hope you and Kim are pleased with your efforts.

Your hostessing skills are on a par with your tiling skills - SUPERB! Thanks for having us there.


Vanessa said...


I can really see how you took inspriation from Julie's lizard tails and made it your own idea. I hope I get one of your candy canes in the swap!

Jem said...

Nettonya, go for it, you won't be stepping on any toes (or tails) Mirror image techniques have been around for ages, long before Julie made lizard tails. There are so many variables yours will have a unique 'Nettonya' stamp.

What I did is actually much closer to a technique I saw in an article years ago that they called Jacob's ladder, I think.
I remember it because I finally knew how all those amazing patterns I saw everywhere online were done. Seems to be not as prevalent as it was then (7-8 years ago).

Cindy Lietz, Polymer Clay Tutor said...

I really like how you modified the lizard tail into some candy canes. Very clever! The people who receive those will be thrilled. They are so cool and unique!

I very much enjoyed your Christmas party. You were an excellent host and your new house is just beautiful. Thank you for the invite!

Sandy said...

I got one, I got one! I saw your posting this morning and said to myself "I only submitted 10 ornaments, I hope one of them is Jem's". And tonight when I arrived home there was one. Going to have to look up the technique.